AFS group

AFS group
Morten, Ericka, Kennet, Anouk, me, Tone, Kristina, and Kristoffer

My Guayaquilanian AFS groupie :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Election Day

So yesterday was Election Day in Ecuador. Ever since I got here there have been signs everywhere saying, "Vota no!" or "Si, mil veces, si!" It has also been the big topic of conversation among people. I still don't completely understand it all, even though I had it explained to me about four or five times, but what I do know about it is this: whichever vote wins, there will be a huge change in the constitution here. Those voting for no are generally the upper classes, si for the lower classes. If the si vote wins, I think there will be a lot more benefits given to the working class. There was also some talk of gay marriage rights and abortion. I am not sure which one corresponds to which (si or no). So yes, a lot of major decisions are contained in this one vote. Also, everyone has to go back to the place they were born to vote, so there were TONS OF PEOPLE!!!

Back to Election Day. I got up early to go to church. The family that I usually go with was downtown voting, so I decided to try and take a bus. I stood at the stop with a group of people for about 20 minutes or so, waiting as bus after bus just passed us by because they were completely full of people. Finally I was able to squeeze myself onto one.

After about five minutes the driver decided to go in a different direction to avoid traffic. Um, ah! I didn't know where I was!! We ended up at the Universidad de Guayaquil, where the traffic was stop and go because the streets were completely filled with people. It was completely ridiculous. I was able to recognize where I was though, so I got off the bus and squeezed my way through the people. I finally made it to the church, and with about 10 minutes to spare! (church starts at 11 and I left my house at 9:45) Phew, what a relief:)
Here we go with another update!! I know it has been a while since I have done it:/

So, what is new with me you ask? Oh, not much... just working, working, working!! But I love my work so it is all good. A couple weekends ago I had another Campamento but this time it was with all the little children, not the adolescents. We all squeezed into one bus - which I am telling you was quite the interesting experience - where we sang songs and had competitions to see which side of the bus was the loudest:) Once we got to the camp we were split into groups again and I was in the group "aguilas" which means eagles. It was a lot of fun, but really really hectic. I had the most free-spirited group, those little stinkers! But apart from them wandering off it was really great. We made little mini plays, cooked lots of delicious, greasy food, and played animal jungle games. We also told stories and the little kids were able to swim in the river.

Two weeks ago I taught another girl named Cindy. She is 15 years old and still doesn't know how to read. On Wednesday I read her a story on "the importance of controlling your emotions". Afterwards we talked a little bit about it and why it is important. It was a little difficult with my spanish, but I think that she got the message:) Then we just talked a little bit about whatever - things like what do you like to do? What type of dancing do you like? She showed me a couple dance moves, so maybe soon I will get that down:) With Karla, we went over the alphabet again. This time she wasn't so distracted thankfully! That crazy girl!!

A couple Saturdays ago I got to hang out with the other two volunteers from my work. They are Anna and Gemma from England and they are hear working on their own art project with the kids. It was quite nice! Haha, I love talking to them. Especially when they ask me questions like, "What do you fancy for lunch?" :) Sometimes I will immitate their accents, and Anna seems to get a kick out of it! That night I went dancing with Yessenia because it was her birthday. It was a lot of fun:) I finally figured out that I like dancing to Merengue (spelling?) It is the more up beat music. I still feel like a complete gringa when I dance, but all her friends were helping me out.

Last week I officially started what is called "Educacion Global". It is an education program through AFS. There are seven different themes that we have to learn, and then we will write up papers on each one, comparing the theme between Ecuador and our own homes (USA). For example, this week was on living conditions. We took a drive to see poor homes, rich homes, and the middle class. We learned about the wide gap between the rich and the poor here. We also learned that they have a garbage system where they just dump the garbage in random places and mix it up with dirt and stones to make petrol? If I understood what they were saying, I think that is what they were talking about. These dumps were literally right up next to the poor people's homes. It's pretty sad, and can't be all that healthy! We also saw rice fields and banana trees - we got to see how the people work that live on those farms. It was interesting stuff.

I also went to the city Guasmo during the educacion trip. We took a canoe out on the river, and we ate some cacao fruit, passion fruit, and these tiny little hot chili peppers right off of the plants that they grew on! mmm, they were delicious. The cacao plant is interesting. It is red, long and skinny. You break it open and there are these round white sticky balls inside. You suck on them until the white goop is all gone, and then you throw the seed away. I guess they dry the seeds and then afterwards crush them into chocolate powder! Pretty sweet, eh? The pepper was soo hot!! All our mouths were going numb just from taking a little bite:) We also went to a street market where they were selling these delicious sweets (haha, my favorite thing!)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Oh Rats!!

Um, ya so I've just been sitting here at the computer. It is now 1:30 in the morning and I am just finishing up some emails and all that good stuff. Anyway, I have a little friend that has decided to keep me company... YES THERE IS A RAT IN MY HOUSE!!!!! Oh my heck, I am freaking out! I can hear it scurrying around and squealing!! It keeps getting closer and closer!!! I think it wants to eat me and it probably can because the rats here are huge!! So just in case... Angi, I guess you can have my clothes. I have seen pictures on Facebook so I know you have been wearing them. Scott, I love you and I would like you to treasure our "ROCK" for always. Family and friends, I love you all and I couldn't have asked for anyone better in my life! It may have been short, but it is full of sweet and blissful memories that I will treasure always! Chiao!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Oops :)

haha, so I guess it is about time that I update my blog... Sorry Sami :)

So let's see... where do I start! Ah, this is bad.
Well, I guess I will start from this weekend and go back from there, yes? Sounds like a plan? Great!!!

So this weekend on Friday I had a Campamento with my work. We went to a place called Montalvo with 50 adolescents that we are working with. It was so much fun! The place was really pretty with lots of tropical plants and such. All the teens were great to talk to. We were split into different groups and played different games and activities. There was also themes given to each group that represent a value that they presented to everyone else. I was the unofficial photographer and there are quite a few interesting model poses that they kept begging me to take. haha, it was all good fun. They also played a game of futbol and they are so amazing! I could just sit and watch them for hours :) the food was amazing, the presentations were fun, and it was great to see all the teens having a good time.

On Saturday I went with my other AFSers to Porto Cayo to hang out at a beach house. I got to play at the beach and that night we played an intense game of Ultimate Spoons!! It was oober intense:) haha, I used SPF 50 at the beach and still got burned!! The next day we got up bright and early and went out in this little tug boat. I couldn't help but sing a few pirate songs to myself:) I felt like I was on LOST, too... anyway, we went out into the sea and got to see some bellenas (whales!) Oh my heck, it was incredible. They are very graceful, beautiful animals, and we got somewhat close to them as well. After we got back on land we drove to a pool with this thick, goopy muck in it. It smelled like raw eggs, no lie. But it was cool, because we got to rub it all over ourselves and our skin felt way soft afterwards. After that we took the three hour ride back home!! I was very exhausted but it was great.

Last week I had my first Operation Amistad. It is where I go directly into the streets and play and talk to the kids that are working. I went with my coworker Emilio and there were probably like 10 kids or so that were running like crazy up to him:) we went to a park with them and played a round of a game similar to red rover. We also colored and played on the swing sets. I loved the kids. There were a couple girls that would always grab my hand while we were walking and they were so sweet. The only hard thing is to see how violent they are. They physically fight with each other a lot, but we aren't allowed to really do anything about it. Our work is a process that takes a long time, so for the present there isn't much I can do:( They just haven't been taught what is right and wrong, and I think that there is a lot of abuse in their homes as well. So I am glad that I get to try and help them overcome that.

Everything is going great with the church as well:) My ward is aweosme. I go with the Vega family, they just live down the street from me. The mother cracks me up, she is hilarious! I am beginning to understand the church lingo a lot better, so I am getting more out of the lessons every single week. And I feel like reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish helps a lot, too. I got to go to the temple already and it is beautiful. There were members there from another city that I got talking to and they were able to teach me some more church words. I also pass the temple every day on my way to work, so it has been a huge blessing:) I am also taking an institute class in the wee hours of the morning (okay, so 7 isn't all that bad) on the Old Testament, and the other day I said my first prayer out loud in spanish!! Yeah!!

So, update on the food... So far I have eaten cow heart, cow tongue, chicken feet, octopus, cow stomach (which was quite disgusting!) and I think that is all so far. I really like the bananas here. I never really cared all that much for them before... but now!! There is a thing called bollon that is verde bananas with queso, there are fried bananas, banana chips, and baked bananas. mmm, delicious! I also really like cocada and this bread called pan de yuca. I am going to have to learn how to cook so that when I get home I will be able to still eat them. I also really like the empanadas. Greasy, horribly unhealthy deliciousness:) I have also killed my first cockcroach, and have survived the mysterious bug bites/blisters that I had on my legs, so I think that I am holding up pretty good if you ask me:)

A couple weeks ago I had another trip with my AFS group for the monthly orientation. I can't believe that I've already been here for a month! We went to this place whose name I don't remember, but we got to take some fun pictures with the statutes, rode horses, hung out with ostriches, and rode this huge zipline! It was really cool:)

Hmmm, ¿que mas? I think that is all that I can think of for now. Sorry that this one is so long!! I hope you enjoyed it anyway:)